LINGUIST List 14.1034

Mon Apr 7 2003

Diss: Semantics: Baltazani "Quantifier scope and..."

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  1. marybaltazani, Semantics: Baltazani "Quantifier scope and the role of..."

Message 1: Semantics: Baltazani "Quantifier scope and the role of..."

Date: Sun, 06 Apr 2003 05:25:09 +0000
From: marybaltazani <marybaltazaninetscape.net>
Subject: Semantics: Baltazani "Quantifier scope and the role of..."


Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Mary Baltazani 

Dissertation Title: 
Quantifier scope and the role of intonation in Greek

Linguistic Field: Semantics, Pragmatics, Phonology, Phonetics 

Subject Language: Greek (code: GRK )

Dissertation Director 1: Sun-Ah Jun
Dissertation Director 2: Daniel B�ring
Dissertation Director 3: Hilda Koopman
Dissertation Director 4: Carson Schutze

Dissertation Abstract: 

In this thesis I give a pragmatic account of the relation between
intonation and meaning in Greek. I argue that the main function of
intonation is to anchor an utterance to its context: different
prosodic realizations of the same sentence signal different partitions
of that sentence into old and new parts--i.e., different information
structures--which make it appropriate for different contexts.

In the first part of the thesis, I establish how information structure
categories are prosodically realized in different sentence types in
Greek (statements, negatives, questions) and show that different rules
apply for encoding focus and background across sentence types.

In the second part of the thesis, I show through experimental evidence
that even when the intonation/information structure organization of an
utterance makes a truth conditional difference, the effect is still
pragmatic and not semantic.

I present results from three experiments which tested the hypothesis
that distinct prosody reflects distinct underlying scope relations in
scope-ambiguous sentences. These experiments examined how sentences
containing two quantificational elements are produced and
interpreted. Each experimental sentence was embedded in two different
contexts and the expectation that each of the contexts would induce a
distinct prosodic realization of that sentence was confirmed. In the
perception part of the three experiments, though, results are not
consistent. In the first two experiments, the interpretation listeners
gave to the utterances they heard depended on the intonation: the
focused quantifier was interpreted with wide scope. However, in the
third experiment listeners gave subjects a wide scope interpretation,
regardless the intonation. In other words, focused and backgrounded
material did not receive an invariant truth-conditional
interpretation, which I take as an argument against dealing with focus
in the semantics proper. On the other hand, I found that the
disambiguating effect of intonation is a function of
context. Intonation encodes information about the context of an
utterance: if this context is unambiguous (in experiments 1, 2), the
utterance is unambiguous too; if the context is ambiguous (in
experiment 3), intonation cannot disambiguate.

This result suggests that intonation is consistently linked with
pragmatics and occasional truth conditional effects of intonation are
epiphenomenal.
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